Thursday, July 20, 2017

Beartown and Am I a Sensitive Reader?

Before I read Beartown, I felt like I "researched" more into this book than any in the past because everyone liked it, but with the disclaimer "triggers abound" or "sensitive readers beware". For me, it was, "well I guess I need to read this book to find out if I am a sensitive reader." 

*Minor spoilers in this post.*

What I gathered from reviews was this was a heavy story, a break away from A Man Called Ove, but that wasn't what turned me off. And knowing a little bit about the content of the story (about a rape), I can see where this would steer people away, but I guess I wasn't seeing why this would be different from a lot of stories that have hard subjects like domestic abuse, addiction, etc. Basically I was really curious to see what the hype was and what everyone was talking about with sensitivity. If I'm reading a hard copy, I can usually see what's coming up ahead and skip over if I need to if it was getting too much for me. So I went with it. 

Some things that bothered me with this read...

-The excessive use of the f-word. Usually this doesn't bother me too much if it's in there occasionally but by golly it felt like every other page (and multiple in those pages) and with a 400+ page book, it was just too much. It seemed more glaring in my face than most books. Maybe this is part of the sensitivity that people were talking about. 

-The structure of the book was really hard to follow at first. They could go through 5-6 characters within one chapter. Once I got the hang of that, it wasn't too bad. In some ways it felt like a movie where you got two scenes going on at the same time and you're going back and forth (heightens the suspense I'm assuming) but for a while it really bothered me. 

For both of these reasons, I would not recommend the audio. 

Here are the things that I did appreciate in the book...

-It was honest. This story covers real situations that we need to talk about more because it's a problem. Also about the shaming and not taking accountability and how much easier it is to hate than to love. There were some really great quotes in the book that touched on this.

-One lesson that stuck out to me was once we take away someone's name from the conversation and call them "the girl" or "the boy" or "young woman," we dehumanize them. And the world of the media can be destructive in anonymity. It opened my eyes once again to that side of things. Makes me really grateful that social media wasn't a big thing till just after high school. I can imagine it being more brutal in schools now with widespread communication. 

-Backman brought out some really great characters (I think Sune was my favorite even though he wasn't in it very long.) They each shined (that sounds a little too nice for this book) but they did in their own way. 

-I was actually eager to discuss the book's subject with a friend on a walk. We were talking about is there only one person at fault in this situation? Who does it affect more? 

I'm hesitant to recommend it to people because of the language. Yes, it is heavy but I think knowing ahead of time what I was getting myself into, made it not as difficult. Maybe because it was more thought-provoking and had more likable characters which made it bearable. 

If someone were to ask me a book I was sensitive to, I would more readily say I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh than this one. This book lacked good discussion, excessive profanity, had awful characters, and main theme was domestic abuse. I guess I was looking for some redeeming qualities in someone and nothing! It was terrible in my opinion. I know it got a lot of love from people because it was a thriller. 

Beartown makes me sensitive with the heavy use of language but maybe not as much with the content than I was expecting. Maybe I'm a selective sensitive reader? It's not like I'm eager to go read more of these type books but at least it's made me more aware. And if I can't handle it, I can always return the book, thank goodness. 

Have you read this book? Thoughts on being a sensitive reader?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

4th of July in Oregon

When I found out Meredith and her family were flying in from Hawaii to stay at my parent's house for three weeks, I just had to make the trip to see them! I mean, I wanted to see my other PNW family members too, but when you haven't seen some of your nieces and nephews for two years, you make more a commitment. :) And I couldn't pass the opportunity to see Alice-Anne and her family as they were having a Johns' reunion on the Oregon coast so two-thirds of the siblings were in Oregon around this time! 

The sad part was all the grandkids were spreading some sort of bug so that was a bummer. It only went through the grandkids and not the adults which was weird but I'm really glad to have escaped that (knock on wood!)

I'll mostly document through pictures but quick recap:
-Sunday dinner with everyone except Seth's family before the Johns' left for their reunion
-Park time at imagination station on Monday
-Patriotic concert and then fro yo afterwards
-4th of July pancake breakfast and the rest of the day spent at the Vances'
-Mere and I chopped off our hair!
-More park time and walking on the Springwater trail
-Girls day with the sisters for lunch and ice cream and then girls night with the nieces and sisters watching The Inheritance

Now the recap through pictures (which really looks like "every picture of Jocelyn there is" but she is so cute, I couldn't help it!)
Me and Claire have got this nose scrunchin thing down
Austin and Evelyn

Dad really into the music that he couldn't peel away to take a picture. ;)

My Dad doing this thing. 

4th of July fun!
Trump face anyone? haha

Always willing to help
And always up for giving kisses

And throwing The Book of Mormon! 
But really, look at that face!!

Girl time
Yummy thai food
Just missing Emily and the three sister-in-laws.
I love her. 
Kissing cheeks all week. 
Over half of the grandkids here
Girl cousins
And boy cousins having a hard time getting it together. 
Crazy/normal picture
And if no one knew where Christian was, the first thing to do was look up. He was climbing roofs this week. I'm not sure how Mere keeps that kid on the ground!

It was so fun to be there with everyone. I'm already itching to go back! 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Second Quarter Reading

Instead of putting all the books I read this quarter, I'm just going to mention the ones I really enjoyed or thought were interesting. You can find a full list of my books here on Goodreads


We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (see full review here)-This is classified as fiction but partly nonfiction as this is the author's ancestor's story of WWII. One of the reasons why I loved it was the unique perspective that you get when you write a family story. She added things but wow, for a debut, this was wonderfully written and captivating. I gave it 5 stars when I read it but it might be more of a 4 star because it hasn't stayed with me as much as I was expecting it too. Maybe next time I should wait a few days because I review something. :) Still worth reading though!

Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens-I finally read a Dickens novel! This was one of my goals this year. And I'm so so so glad I read it. Amazing! The day after I finished it I told my friend that she should read it so I could read it again and we can talk about it. It took me a little bit to get the hang of Dickens' writing but how it all came together was brilliant. He is a masterful storyteller. I'm pretty sure I'll love it even more the second time.

My cousin started this business called Good Friends Good Books and she was doing a Jane Austen reading group and I asked her if she would do a Dickens' group which she happily obliged. She sent out character list, reading schedule, videos throughout the book to get us thinking about things, etc. and it added to the experience of reading the book. The character list and having someone guide me through it was so helpful. I read it with my Mom and then my brother read it a couple of weeks later and all of us loved it. 

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin-This is one I would pose for a book club. Lots to discuss here. Really fascinating look into Charles and Anne Lindbergh's marriage and the complexity behind it. The novel was from Anne's perspective and read almost like a memoir instead of historical fiction. I kind of wish I had read her book Gifts from the Sea after this novel knowing more about her.


Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (full review here)-Excellent! Highly, highly, recommend. The topic of criminal injustice in America is something we need to be talking more about. 

A quote from the book that sums it up: "We're supposed to sentence people fairly after fully considering their life circumstances, but instead we exploit the inability of the poor to get the legal assistance they need-all so we can kill them with less resistance." 

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIVDesmond TutuDouglas Carlton Abrams-This was so enjoyable to listen to! I can see where you would want the physical copy as I was having to pause the audio and write down quotes. I like how they each have their own perspective (they didn't agree on everything) but they embraced their differences and you can just tell they epitomize joy. :)

Some quotes I liked:

-Our mind is the axel that determine if the ride (of life) is bumpy or smooth.
-When we think of threat as a challenge, our body responds very differently.
-Suffering makes you appreciate more the joy.
-You grow in kindness when your kindness is tested.
-A prayerful, meditative life gives you the ability and freedom to respond rather than react. 
-If we want to change the world, we must teach compassion. 


Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin-This was a wonderful memoir. I have yet to read Goodwin's 'Team of Rivals' (I feel like it'll be forever on my TBR list) but this was a fun snippet into her growing up years in Brooklyn. Her love for baseball mirrored my love for football and basketball growing up so I was laughing at her passion because I saw myself in her in those moments. Probably my favorite part was her first Confession with the priest and having to repent because she prayed repeatedly that several New York Giant players would be injured! haha And her description of the Dodgers winning the World Series gave me chills.

Young Adult

Flipped by Wendell Van Draanen-I think this one is borderline middle grade but it was a fast-paced read that surprisingly packs in a lot in the short novel. It taught about how our perspective changes when we really get to know people. I loved Juli and her dad's relationship through the whole thing. And the movie is wonderful and follows the book almost exactly. I now want to read Van Draanen's The Running Dream

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham-I did stay up late finishing this one. It was one of the better YA novels that I read, probably because it didn't have a lovesick romance in it. ;) But they do hit some good themes and I think this book would be good paired up with the book Just Mercy.

Middle Grade

Sticks and Stones by Abby Cooper-I'm mentioning this book because it's not getting a lot of attention but I think it's unique. I thought this was similar to Wonder but not executed as well. It's about a girl who has this rare disease where people's words, whether good or bad, get etched into her skin. It's about how she combats the negativity and finds confidence during her 6th grade year. 

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan-One of the best audio productions I've ever heard. The narrators were good but what made it was the music which is a very integral part of the story. This is a hefty read for middle grade but worth it. It feels like three books in one because it's about three kids (one in Germany, Pennsylvania, and California) and how they're all connected by this magical harmonica before, during, and after WWII and how they all come together in Carnegie Hall in the 1950's. There are some great themes in this book about belonging in a family and how music can heal the injustices we're facing. There was also a touch of magic in this story-overall just a fantastic read.

Have you read any of these? Thoughts? What have you been reading lately?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sharing The Good

Sis. Eubank's talk during Women's conference really resonated with me this last month. Listening to her I felt like she was the new Sheri Dew. I'm going to be coming back to this talk a lot. You can also read it here

Speaking of Sheri Dew, I listened to her new book, Worth the Wrestle, and a couple of things that stuck out to me was when you're struggling at life or circumstances are not happening like you thought, it doesn't reflect your testimony of the gospel. For some reason I needed to hear that. Another thing that stuck out was a story she heard from a young women who received some great revelation during a particular general conference. Sis. Dew asked what the difference was and she said that she read a conference talk every day leading up to general conference and it was like she was saying to the Lord, "I treasure your words to receive more." A synopsis of her book is in this BYU-Idaho devotional. She also came to Moscow last year to speak at our women's conference and she talked about the same thing. She's one of my heroes! 

My Family's Slave: I recently read two slavery books (Glory over Everything and The Underground Railroad) so this was a timely and powerful read. I didn't realize until later that it was written by one of my brother's colleague's at the University of Oregon who passed away in March.

I love a good book list! Next to reading books, my favorite thing is to find and receive book recommendations. I'm kind of a sucker for a good list (probably why I like these 'sharing the good' posts.) One of these book list people that I love is What Do We Do All Day. Her endless lists of books were made for people like me. And the best part is she focuses on children literature which is right up my alley. Two lists that I have been eyeing recently is a not your typical book list and this one on best audiobooks for family road trips

Cumin Lime Black Bean Qunioa Salad: My friend, Melanie, introduced me to this recipe and I'm so glad she did! Easy, breezy recipe and I'm already making it for the 2nd time in less than 5 days which is a good sign. I made it with quinoa the first time and brown rice the second time. I love that it's so versatile (just check the comments for proof)! 

Off topic and not necessarily on the good side of things but last post I shared that I was watching 'Anne with an E' on Netflix. We finished it last week and I did not like it AT ALL. Okay, well, the first episode was fine and the acting and the casting weren't bad all around but the feel of the show was so depressing. The ending kind of made me sick to my stomach. I felt like the writers and the producers had a bone to pick and they used Anne as their messenger. It's like they were trying to incorporate 2017 ideas in early 1900's. It just didn't work IMO. This article titled 'Anne with an F' pretty much sums up how I was feeling. I had to get the 1985 version to remember that I once felt happy watching Anne of Green Gables!

Have you seen it? What are your thoughts?